F Rosa Rubicondior: Kent Hovind's Ten Most Ignorant Questions

Saturday 31 July 2010

Kent Hovind's Ten Most Ignorant Questions

The convicted fraudster and Young Earth Creationist, Dr Kent Hovind, (or to give him his proper academic title, Mr Kent Hovind) claims to have ten questions which Evolutionists cannot/will not answer.

Various estimates put Hovind's income from his idiosyncratic biological, geophysical and cosmological claims and lecture tours at $1-2 million dollars per annum.

Hovind's doctorate (which was in Christian Education, not, as has been claimed, in a science subject of any sort) was the result of a short correspondence course with an unaccredited Bible college, Patriot Bible University.

Patriot Bible Shed, Colorado, USA
The college refuses to release his dissertation but those who have managed to see a copy report that it is incomplete, repetitions, unoriginal, lacking references with very little academic merit, and shows a lack of basic understanding and knowledge of science. Hovind claims to be a scientist but his sole science 'qualification' appears to be that he taught 'science' in private high-schools, all of which were fundamentalist Christian schools, some of which Hovind himself owned.

[Later note: A copy of Kent Hovind's doctoral 'dissertation' is now available on Wikileaks at http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Young-earth_creationist_Kent_Hovind's_doctoral_dissertation. As readers can see, this is barely up to the standard required for an 'A' level assignment report and shows no evidence of having been submitted for peer review.]

This blog both answers Hovind’s ten questions and exposes the attempted deception behind them.

  1. Where did the space for the Universe come from?
  2. Space is part of the Universe. Space (and time) came into existence along with everything else in the Universe. There is no space or time ‘outside’ the Universe and no scientific theory claims they pre-existed it. Stephen Hawking, retired Lucasian Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge, England, has recently argued that gravity is all that is required to explain how the Universe originated as a singularity in what has been called the Big Bang.

    This has nothing to do with the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection (TOE), which explains the fact of evolution by explaining how natural selection produces diversity when acting on variation in replicators, so explaining how the observable similarities and differences between varieties, species, families, orders, etc came about.

    Kent Hovind now needs to explain why he asked this question when he could easily have checked this in any book on cosmology or any website dealing with the subject.

    He needs to explain why he has perpetuated a fallacy about space existing independently of the Universe when it has been known for about 100 years that it doesn't and why he failed to take the opportunity to dispel this fallacy.

    He also needs to explain why he misleads his target audience by implying that the origin of the Universe is part of the TOE when he could have checked and dispelled that misconception too.

  3. Where did matter come from?
  4. Matter is composed of elementary particles, which are themselves a form of energy. This has been known ever since Albert Einstein explained it with his famous e = mc2 formula, probably the best known of all mathematical formulae. Energy itself is what came into existence in the singularity at the beginning of space-time. See below for details of how energy is organised.

    Kent Hovind now needs to explain why he feigns ignorance of this and has pretended the question has not been answered.

    Incidentally, the origin of matter has nothing whatever to do with the TOE, so he also needs to explain why he misleads his target audience by pretending it does.

  5. Where did the laws of the Universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)?
  6. These are fundamental laws of matter. They are descriptive not prescriptive. They are what science uses to describe what happens. For example, they describe what will happen if you pick up a stone and drop it. They do not make the stone fall.

    First Newton in his Principia Mathematica and later Einstein with his Special and General Theories of Relativity have shown the mathematics behind gravity and the laws of motion. They did not 'come from' somewhere independent of the Universe and of matter but are a fundamental aspect of matter (see 2 above). This question is a daft as asking Kent Hovind where his weight came from as though it came to him independently of his body.

    The fact is, we could not ask these questions about fundamentals of the Universe in a Universe in which the fundamental laws were different. It is self-evident that intelligent life can only exist in a Universe in which it is capable or existing, and this Universe is one such Universe. It follows therefore that this Universe must have certain fundamental qualities.

    Hovind now needs to explain why he has feigned ignorance of basic science or claims to be a scientist yet doesn't understand the difference between description and proscription.

    And again, this has nothing to do with the TOE.

  7. How did matter get so perfectly organized?
  8. It isn't perfectly organized and no scientific theory claims it to be, least of all biology and evolution.

    At the lowest level matter is chaotic. There are several good science books dealing with chaos theory and how order is an inevitable emergent property of chaos. Fractals are also part of this general body of knowledge.

    This question illustrates how Hovind uses a dishonest technique with his question because it requires us to accept a fallacy to answer it. It's the trick of begging the question, used by people who know they are pushing a lie.

    There is so much information available on this that Hovind now needs to explain why he has implied that this is an unanswered question.

    Yet again, this is not part of the TOE.

  9. Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?
  10. Which scientific theory claims matter is organized by energy? Note again the dishonest begged question which depends on the scientific ignorance of his target audience for it's success.

    The origin of energy per se is fundamental to theories of the singularity (Big Bang) origin of the Universe. There are four forms of energy: weak and strong nuclear forces, electromagnetic force and gravity. All observations confirm that gravity is equal to the sum of the other three forms and that gravity is the negative of the other three. The sum total of energy in the Universe is zero.

    This is also well known to physics so Hovind now needs to explain why he has again feigned ignorance of it.

    And again, this is not part of the TOE.

  11. When, where, why, and how did life come from non-living matter?
  12. Theories of the origin of replicators (biogenesis) are not part of any theory of evolution. Evolution by Natural Selection explains how natural selection acting on variations in replication has led to the current (and past) diversity of life on Earth.

    Hovind has played the common trick here of using the term ‘life’ without defining it. If he means the ability to replicate, then chemistry is the answer. If he is requiring evolutionists to explain some quality he would like to be present, he first needs to explain exactly what that is and then justify his insistence that science explain something which he wishes to be present merely to satisfy his requirements for the Universe.

    Hovind has been told this on numerous occasions so he now needs to explain why he pretends not to have had the question answered. He also need to come up with a scientifically valid definition of ‘life’.

  13. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?
  14. Well, at last! A question which actually relates, even if fallaciously, to the TOE, but there’s that weasel term ‘life’ again, and still no definition.

    If he’s asking how replicators ‘learned’ to replicate then he might just as well ask how any atoms and molecules ‘learn’ to do chemistry. How does sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid ‘learn’ to make sodium chloride and water?

    Of course, as Hovind knows, there is no learning process involved. Hovind now needs to explain why he implied there is and again needed to use the dishonest ploy of the begged question.

  15. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?
  16. With other cells of course. Evolution takes place in the gene pool, not in individuals. Hovind is here playing on a common misconception about evolution. There is never a single individual which suddenly evolves into a new species. No mother ever gives birth to an entirely new species and no TOE has ever claimed this to be the case. Evolution is a process which takes place over time, not a single event, as any cursory reading of a basic biology textbook would have shown him

    Hovind has been told this on many occasions, so he now needs to explain why he still plays on this common misconception in his target audience instead of correcting them and educating them about the real TOE.

    Again there is the traditional dishonesty of the begged question which requires us to accept his fallacies in order to answer it.

  17. Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and decrease the chances of survival? (Does the individual have a drive to survive, or the species? How do you explain the origin of reproduction?)
  18. Which TOE claims any species evolves in any particular direction because that's where it 'wants' to go? Again we see the begged question.

    Replicators replicate because that's what replicators do, just as objects fall in a gravity field because that's what objects acting under gravity do. If this replication leads to food shortages then that is part of the environment in which these replicators replicate, and one of the factors involved in natural selection. Those replicators best able to survive and reproduce will be those whose genes will come to dominate the gene pool. If this evolution leads to extinction then the species will go extinct. There is no plan involved and the very many extinctions show that no intelligence was involved either.

    Hovind now needs to explain why he is requiring evolutionists to explain something which isn't part of the TOE, when he has been told many times that it isn’t. He must also explain why he has knowingly chosen to perpetuate a fallacy rather than to dispel it.

  19. How can mutations (recombining of the genetic code) create any new, improved varieties? (Recombining English letters will never produce Chinese books.)
  20. Who claimed mutation is 'recombination of genetic code'?

    Mutation is simply imperfect replication. This creates variation on which natural selection operates, and, in so doing over time, changes the ratio of different variants in the gene pool. Accumulation of these small changes over the deep time in which evolution operates leads to large changes in the species. These accumulated changes in isolated gene pools can lead to loss of the ability to interbreed with members of other gene pools with which it was once continuous. This is defined by taxonomists as a new species. A definition, incidentally, which is purely man-made and is not mandatory on nature.

    And of course all this is exactly what the theory of evolution explains. Ironically, Hovind is claiming science hasn't explained what the very theory he is attacking explains. He either doesn't understand what he is attacking, or he does understand it but is dishonestly playing to an audience which doesn't.

    Hovind now needs to explain why he asked a misleading question about mutation instead of telling his target audience what he has been told on countless occasions, and so educating them about an important and fascinating aspect of biological science. Instead, he has chosen to knowingly perpetuate a fallacy.

So there we have it. None of the first seven question relate to the TOE so are not questions evolutions need to answer. Never–the-less all these questions, where they relate to science, have been answered by physicists and cosmologists and the answers can be found in an good text books on the subject, or on any good on-line sources which deal with these questions. This can be done by anyone with the determination to find them and who is not afraid to look.

The rest of Hovind's questions are of the straw man type where evolutionists are asked to explain something which is not claimed by the TOE and which Hovind has included deliberately to mislead his target audience in order to perpetuate fallacies and misunderstandings about the TOE. Of course you will not find answers to these questions in standard evolution reference works since they are not part of evolutionary theory.

But there is another, deeper fallacy which Hovind is perpetuating here. Any scientific theory must stand on its own and show the evidence for its own validity. Merely falsifying a rival theory does not automatically validate any other theory.

Let’s assume just for one moment that Hovind and his fellow creationist had found the evidence they crave and could successfully refute the Big Bang, theories of the structure of space-time and the nature of matter, and the Theory of Evolution. They would merely have shown some scientific theories to be wrong. They would NOT have shown that their preferred hypothesis – that their god did it all – was right. That hypothesis would still need to be validated by evidence and experimentation.

Moreover, it would need to state clearly exactly what would falsify it.

Until they had succeeded in doing this their hypothesis would still be just one of an infinite array of possible alternative hypotheses and, even restricting these hypotheses to origin myths, it would have no more going for it that any other origin myth.

Hovind is here knowingly perpetuating one of the oldest and most dishonest fallacies; the false dichotomy. He is falsely implying that, if science is wrong, his is the only alternative and so becomes right by default. It doesn’t, and to imply differently is dishonest. It is a disgraceful attempt to exploit the general level of ignorance and stupidity he assumes in his target audience and which he works assiduously to perpetuate.

Hovind's questions also subscribe to the 'god of the gaps' fallacy. This makes the entirely fallacies assumption that, if there is something science hasn't yet answered, the ONLY possible answer is that God did it. This is, of course, nonsense, but it plays again to the general level of ignorance and stupidity Hovind assumes in his target audience. Not satisfied with that deceit however, Hovind over-does things by making up gaps where none exist.

Creationists have never produced a single piece of scientific data which supports their hypothesis; they have never performed, or even described, experiments which validate it, and they will never say what would falsify it. For these reasons alone it has no place in any discussion of alternative scientific theories. It barely deserved to be called a hypothesis in the scientific meaning of the word. A 'notion' would perhaps be more accurate.

The only reason creationist attack science and especially the TOE is because it conflicts with their theology. That is not a problem for science; it is a problem for their theology. They are struggling to reconcile an illogical belief in a myth for which there is no evidence and the ever-increasing scientific evidence which shows it to be wrong. An honest person would accept the evidence and admit to being wrong.

So, 'Dr' Kent Hovind, you say you have many more such questions for evolutionists. Post them, and this time let’s hope they actually relate to evolution and deal with real problems for evolution theory, and that they show you to be less of a charlatan than these ten.

Oh! And while you're at it, could you please say what evidence you would accept as validating the Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution. An honest critic of these would have no difficulty in so doing.

And maybe you could answer my simple question - which science books did you study when looking for answers to those questions, and what did you not understand?

Feel free to respond.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. Wow, that's quite a useful & reasoned summary

  2. I could not have put it better myself lol, your friend Apologist315 might not agree, then again he might not read anything like this.

  3. Very, very good!

  4. Slight error in paragraph 3 of Point.10. you have "knowing" where you mean "knowingly".

  5. In point 10, it is also important to note that using the analogy of code is just that: An analogy!

    Genes are just chemicals. Nothing is knowingly creating new information. New combinations of DNA create new proteins which help or hinder the organism in the current environment.

  6. Even if none of these questions could be answered by science, that would still not be evidence for the existence of God or any god. Science's (in)ability to answer these questions only says something about science.

  7. Indeed. Kent Hovind is trying to get away with a God of the Gaps fallacy, which he's found usually works on the simpletons he parasitises for a living.

  8. Nice try Rosa but all you did was dodge the questions and play word games. Where did the universe (and everything in it) come from? You and I both know it had a beginning...science has proven it. So did it create itself or did God create it? You know which one is logically impossible so I'm curious to see how you will dodge this one too because you are the queen at doing so. Or you'll just never allow this comment to appear and act like it never happened...kind of like you do with God despite the mountain of evidence for him. You are a philosophical joke.

  9. Anonymous

    >Where did the universe (and everything in it) come from?<

    Don't tell me. Let me guess....

    A magic man was magicked out of nothing by nothing then magicked everything out of nothing by magic, eh?

    Now why didn't I think of that before? Oh wait... I did, until I was 9 years old.

  10. these are about the creation of the universe, not evolution. this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what topics you're even trying to argue.

    1. Of course. Hovind was obviously hoping his audience would be too ignorant of basic science to realise that.

  11. I read what they are saying is Hovind's dissertation a few weeks ago. The were no citations, it was written in popular tone rather than scholarly and he refers to it as a book. So I was a little skeptical and e-mail Patriot University. They told me that this was not his actual dissertation. They do not keep a public record of dissertations, so the only way to see a copy of it is to contant Kent Hovind personally, and he said that he lost his copy...

    1. If 'Dr' Hovind would like to contact me I can email him a copy :-)

      Or he can download one from here or here.

      You will see his 'doctorate' is not in a science subject at all but appears to have been awarded because he managed to type out large chunks of text copied from a Bible. Obviously it was typed out on an old-fashioned typewriter from the days before word processors with in-built spell-checkers.

  12. Hi Rosa!!

    I am enjoying your site. Thought I would chime in here.

    Occasionally, I would argue with a Creationist at work. He no longer works there, but I certainly would have liked to have some of these answers, as he held up "Dr." Hovind as a learned man and a thought leader for "Creation Science".

    Three lines of logic that I used frequently, but in different ways are:

    1) The Bible was never intended to be a science book. Trying to "prove" the scientific authenticity of a non-science book never seemed to promote any of the teachings of either the Old or New Testament. I used some of Bill Nye's arguments to show how the Bible is discordant with what we know about science today. I encouraged him to just google "Bill Nye Science Guy" to get a hint of where I learned my information. Unfortunately, he never did.

    2) My friend always claimed "god" was supernatural. He (yes, god had a gender is his world) could do anything: create the universe, create the planets, create biological diversity on Earth, and create human beings. I pointed out more than once: defining god as SUPERnatural means that she is "outside" of the laws of nature. Therefore, it is logically inconsistent to try to use chemistry, physics, and math to prove or disprove the existence of a supernatural being or his/her works. For example, I asked how god created Adam. What were the actual processes god used to create Adam? He explained that it was a supernatural process. My response was: If it was supernatural, then you or anyone else, cannot evoke science as a means of explanation. Supernatural beings or their works are not the subject of science. On its face, the logic just does not work. In other words, supernatural is short for "I don't know, but I have faith that it happened." Again, this line of reasoning does not promote a scientific understanding of anything.

    3) When we discussed early human remains, I asked how he explained these earlier forms of homo sapiens, listed nicely elsewhere on your blog. He believed that many of these were just scams. He relied heavily on the Piltdown Man to prove his point. I continued to tease him that god was, in fact, imperfect and he needed several attempts to get human beings correct.

    Thanks again for your blog. It is fun to read.


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